The FBHVC monthly report

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The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs represents our interests nationally, fighting for those who enjoy using their Classic Cars.

Robin Astle, our Club's FBHVC representative gives a monthly report on what's going on.

Robin Astle

September 2023

by Robin Astle.

From FBHVC Newsletter 2023 No. 4

Legislation – Lindsay Irvine

DVLA by David Whale

In the last issue, Ian stated that the Federation was pursuing the outstanding and concerning DVLA issues by all means available to it. One of the very valuable routes we can use is via the very supportive All-Party Parliamentary Historic Vehicles Group (APPHVG) and its Chairman, Sir Greg Knight MP. I was recently able to attend two meetings in Westminster, firstly an exclusive APPHVG meeting on the 21st June where the cross-party group wholeheartedly endorsed the Federation’s position. Thanks to sterling efforts by Sir Greg, this was followed on 27th June by a meeting with the Minister for Roads, Richard Holden MP, whose remit includes the DfT Executive Agencies DVLA and DVSA.

We spent 30 minutes with Richard who listened intently to the concerns we expressed with regard to our recent interaction with the DVLA and the current challenges over the registration of historic vehicles. We recognised that technical challenges should be resolved with greater involvement of the DVSA team. The Minister was particularly keen for his people to work more closely with all organisations involved and very senior members of the DVLA team in Swansea joined the meeting by audio conference. It was agreed that the next formal meeting of the Historic Vehicle User Group will be scheduled within the next few weeks.

Reviewing the meeting afterwards, Sir Greg and I concluded it was a successful outcome.

We will follow up on all these issues as appropriate and Ian will continue to report progress in FBHVC News as usual. If members have any particular concerns, please advise the Federation team accordingly.

David Whale

David has been Chairman of the FBHVC since 2012 and has served on various historic vehicle international committees. His vehicle interests include a pre-production Morris Mini Moke, a 1938 Rosengart coupé, a 1904 Curved Dash Oldsmobile and a 1973 Range Rover.

Fuels by Nigel Elliott

Fuel Additives

The FBHVC was instrumental in testing aftermarket lead replacement additives for unleaded petrol and corrosion inhibitors for ethanol containing petrol and historically endorsed several fuel additives. The FBHVC continues to support the use of aftermarket additives for lead replacement and corrosion protection where appropriate. Fuel additive approval requires extensive performance and no-harm testing to validate performance claims and safe use in classic and historic vehicles. The FBHVC has therefore decided to cease endorsement of aftermarket fuel additives as it is difficult keep up to date with fuel additive formulation and performance claim changes and is expensive to test their respective performance in classic and historic vehicles.

The fuel additive aftermarket is mature, and many classic and historic vehicle owners have good experience of using these additives to protect their vehicles from damage. The FBHVC recommends that this experience is shared via member clubs to their membership to help select appropriate fuel additives. The FBHVC will continue to recommend that lead replacement and corrosion inhibitor additives are considered by FBHVC members but will not make specific manufacturer recommendations or endorsements.

The FBHVC welcomes feedback on members’ experiences with fuel additives so that they can be shared with member clubs and any issues highlighted. The FBHVC will continue to provide advice on fuel quality to member clubs and their members including the appropriate use of fuel additives to protect classic and historic vehicles.

Nigel Elliott

Nigel’s career in engine and vehicle testing, fuels product development and quality in the oil industry culminated in his current role as a consultant and industry advisor in the UK and Europe. He is an active member of the British Standards Institute’s Liquid Fuels Committee. He supports and competes at Shelsley Walsh in a modified Triumph TR7 and has many other historic car and club interests.

Antifreeze – Something to Think About in Summer

As the fine weather of Spring slowly displaced the incessant rain, the Federation received a query about antifreeze from one obviously far-sighted club.

Technology moves forward and new products are constantly being launched with claims to improved formulations and performance. There are some alarming stories around relating to the use of some of these in historic vehicles which go beyond the well-known tendency of antifreeze to find the tiniest hole and cause leaks and in some cases lead to catastrophic engine problems.

Traditional blue ethylene glycol is a toxic but highly effective antifreeze and contains silicates as an inhibitor to help prevent corrosion in an engine with mixed metals in its make-up.

Bluecol and Blue Star are well known brand names and both are declared suitable for ‘classic cars’ on their company websites. Halfords also sells this type of anti-freeze with its own branding.

Beware that there are also low- or no-silicate ethylene glycol formulations (usually red) available which may not be suitable for all engines.

Propylene glycol is another well-known and less toxic antifreeze formula and usually contains silicates but Comma, the main manufacturer, has now discontinued it in favour of an ethylene glycol product containing ‘bittering agents’ to make it less palatable and minimise the risk of accidental poisoning.

Both of the above products use inorganic additive technology (IAT).

Recently problems have been reported concerning the use of antifreeze mixtures using organic acid technology (OAT). OAT was introduced in the mid-1990s and the products are biodegradable, recyclable and do not contain either silicates or phosphates and are designed to be longer lasting. However, these products do seem to cause problems in older engines.

Over and above the ability of antifreeze to find the smallest crevice and leak, OAT antifreezes have been accused of destroying seals and gaskets and causing a great deal of damage in ‘old’ engines. For this reason, the manufacturers do not recommend their use in historic vehicles. These products are usually coloured red, pink or orange.

The final category is HOAT. These products use hybrid organic acid technology (HOAT) in an ethylene glycol base with some silicates in the formulation alongside the organic corrosion inhibitors. The product is usually coloured green and is not recommended for use in historic vehicles.

Thus, the FBHVC advice remains:

  • Only use blue coloured IAT usually coloured blue but can be green antifreeze in historic vehicles.
  • Only use OAT products (‘advanced’ or ‘long life’ antifreeze) if the vehicle used it when new and if specifically directed by the vehicle’s manufacturer.
  • Never mix different types of antifreeze without thoroughly flushing out the system.
  • Always use the correct amount of anti-freeze for year-round protection and replace the coolant within the time scale specified by the antifreeze manufacturer as the corrosion inhibitors deplete over time.

Product labels state that the radiator should be drained and flushed, a hosepipe will suffice rather than proprietary flushing liquids, every two years.

However, there does seem to be some confusion over the colouring of antifreeze in that traditionally ethylene glycol containing IAT corrosion inhibitors were dyed blue, but it seems that in the USA and some companies in Europe are dying the IAT antifreeze green. For example, see Total Energies’ product range and advice below:

Total Energies

Unsure what antifreeze you need? Multiple types of antifreeze are available, with each using a different type of corrosion inhibitor. This is indicated by a coloured dye:

IAT(Inorganic Additive Technology)SilicatesGreen
OAT (Organic Acid Technology)Organic AcidsOrange
HOAT(Hybrid OAT, Phosphate-free)NAP-freeTurquoise
HOAT (Hybrid OAT)Silicates and organic acidsYellow
Si-OAT (Silicated HOAT)Silicates and organic acidsPurple
P-HOAT (Phosphated HOAT)Phosphates and organic acidsBlue or pink



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